Marriage is a gift that God graciously gives to His people. Here we want to consider two truths about marriage and two ways we can celebrate the gift of marriage in our confused world today.
Marriage is rooted in a complementarian understanding of gender.
God designed man and woman in His own image and likeness and for the purpose of representing His image in the world. Man and woman possess equal dignity and worth before God with different roles to play in the home and in the church. Biblical complementarity is a shadow of the relationships within the Trinity. The Father, Son, and Spirit are all of equal worth and value and possess equal dignity as members of the Godhead. At the same time, there are subordinate roles within the Trinity: The Son submits to the will of the Father, and the Spirit responds to the leading of the Father and the Son. This “equal but different” ordering of things is not a Christian-fad that some people adhere to today: it is an eternally old idea that points us to God.
God created man and woman for a complementary relationship in marriage because it says something about God’s existence as Trinity. God created marriage with fruitfulness in mind, to the exclusion of all non-complementary relationships. Throughout the whole story of the Bible, God only smiles over and blesses the sexual union of one man and one woman in the covenant bond of marriage. There is exclusivity to the gift.
Marriage reminds us of the gospel.
While it is absolutely true that God’s good gift of marriage is for our benefit and joy, He actually made marriage to give us a tangible way to understand the good news of the gospel. You see, marriage wasn’t made simply for our relational satisfaction. It was graciously given to us to show us that we were ultimately made for union and communion with Him. This is why Paul goes to such pains to draw the parallel between marriage and the gospel in Ephesians 5.
To live in light of this truth means accepting that we were made for something more, and that marriage is one of God’s good gifts to help us understand that. It means trusting God’s design of marriage to be the best way to get at His intent. This idea often stands in stark contrast to a culture who says everything exists for “my” or “our” pleasure.
How do we live in a conflicting cultural context?
We see these two truths about marriage but may be left with so many questions about how to actually work them out in our world of need. Here are two ways we can rightly celebrate the gift of marriage in our increasingly confused culture:
SEE GOD’S DESIGN AND CELEBRATE IT.
We remember that, in God’s eyes, marriage is a covenant between two people, not a legal status to check off when we’re filing our taxes. Do you get that? United States marriage laws have no bearing at all on how Christians view and practice marriage.
We don’t pick fights and antagonize people who see the world differently. We find meaningful ways to live as a contrast (we’re unapologetically weird) community (we do this as a family—the church!) by holding up God’s design for marriage as precious, worth treasuring, and worth embracing.
In the beginning, God created man and woman in his image. He blessed them. He called them to be fruitful and multiply. The story of the creation of mankind ends with the sentence, “Therefore, a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). This is the reality. This is the design: one man and one woman, cleaving to each other, and each other alone, in covenant-keeping commitment and a sexual union that can only be described as “one flesh,” until they are separated by death.
The Christian commitment to this design is far from a knee-jerk homophobia, though Christians holding to this Biblical view of marriage are often accused of such. It’s not a Puritan, prudish sexual ethic that rejects alternatives to lifelong marriage. No, this is a thoughtful, reasonable conviction based deeply in the idea that God isn’t a killjoy; He’s out to kill whatever kills joy. It’s a conviction that God is the Great Designer, and He knows better than anyone what’s good for us, what’s good for our families, and what’s good for whole societies of people made in His image.
ASK GOD FOR HIS POWER TO LIVE OUT HIS DESIGN.
God has called us to something that is impossible apart from the work of the gospel. He calls us to value one another and celebrate our differences. He calls us to gladly embrace both the gifts of singleness and marriage. He calls us to come to know Him through communities of vulnerability. He calls us to trust His goodness, and His design as best, even if or when our emotions, feelings, or the culture suggest otherwise. He calls us to submit to one another, to love one another with selflessness, and to forgive and seek forgiveness when we fall short of His perfection.
We cannot live out God’s design for marriage on our own. We desperately need His help. Jesus is the answer. Jesus traded places with us. The Apostle Paul says it this way in 2 Corinthians 5: “God made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God.” God makes it possible for us to live out His good design despite our fallenness. Jesus healed us by absorbing all of God’s wrath towards our rebellion. Jesus has made it possible. Believe in Him.
We have been redeemed. We get up when we get knocked down and when we fail. We keep moving. We keep trusting God and pursuing His design. He is the Good Giver, who is to be loved above all of His gifts.
He who did not spare his own Son will graciously give us all things. He has made us for Himself, and He has made us for each other as man and woman. In His grace, He providentially provided community as the place in which we figure it out together.